The launch of what became known as the Russell-Einstein Manifesto took place at Caxton Hall in London, 9 July 1955. Despite Russell’s fears that it would be a “damp squib,” the world’s media was intensely interested. Joseph Rotblat, the youngest of the signatories, chaired this event. This press conference in effect launched what would become the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, and the manifesto is the founding document of Pugwash.
Listen here to the first 30 minutes of the press conference:
Here is a shorter excerpt of Russell reading a portion of the Manifesto, including the sections urging us to “learn to think in a new way” and to “remember your humanity and forget the rest”:
Reporters were invited to attend a press conference of world significance, but they were not told what to expect. Rotblat wrote:
“It was thought that only a few of the Press would turn up and a small room was booked in Caxton Hall for the Press Conference. But it soon became obvious that the interest was increasing and the next larger room was booked. In the end the largest room was taken and on that day of the Conference this was packed to capacity with representatives of the press, radio and television from all over the world.”
The Manifesto was widely covered in newspapers around the world. The New York Times published an editorial on 11 July 1955 on the “global patriotism” expressed in the Manifesto:
The sinister clouds that blossomed over Hiroshima and Nagasaki have not wholly dissipated. Their psychological fallout continues, distressing the minds of men. What can cure this sickness of our generation?…The answer is an agreement not to go to war….because, in grim truth, world-wide war would now be suicide for all concerned, aggressors and defenders alike….Lord Russell may be thanked to the degree that he has waked us up—and possibly our Communist contemporaries—to reality.
Rotblat summarized the overwhelming response they received from well-wishers all over the world:
The response to the Manifesto was indeed enthusiastic. Hundreds of letters and cables, from individuals and groups, came pouring in from all over the world, expressing approval and offering help. If any confirmation was needed, the attitude of the Press and the spontaneous response from the people showed that the Manifesto had struck a sensitive chord in the minds of the public; the idea that scientists should take an active part in world affairs was evidently approved by public opinion.
J. Rotblat, Science and World Affairs: History of the Pugwash Conferences (London: Dawsons of Pall Mall, 1962), p. 7.]
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